Top 10 Rules For Facilitating A Successful Meeting

August 11, 2017 •  5 minute read • by Saeed


“A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.” ~ Unknown

When you are tasked with facilitating a meeting, there are some fundamental rules of the road to follow to get you safely to your destination. By definition, facilitation is any activity that makes an action or a process easy or easier. Here are the top 10 rules I’ve learned and honed after 25 years of facilitating meetings:

  1. Start the meeting well. First impressions count. Setting the right tone for the meeting is important. Review the agenda to let people know what’s up for discussion. Review the objectives. Set a positive tone with an inspirational opening activity. Please don’t make it cheesy. To the extent possible, make it relevant to the meeting at hand.
  2. Keep your eye on the objectives. Without objectives and/or stated purpose, meetings can easily turn into aimless social gatherings rather than productive working sessions. Be very clear about your purpose and pursue it with focus. You objectives should align with your agenda items. The whole agenda should work as a, well, as a whole. Aim for harmony.
  3. Maintain your focusControl tangents. Be careful about going on for too long and raising extraneous points. Bring your focus back to the stated agenda item, question or topic at hand when you find yourself taking unnecessary detours. If others are rambling, do the same. Remember, you are air traffic control and everyone is either trying to take off or to land and your job is maintain some sense of order.
  4. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Keep it succinct. Agenda items, presentation, discussions, back and forths, and Q&As are best delivered in short sprints rather than long marathons. Long marathons test peoples’ attention spans. These days, our attentions are a major commodity not to be taken for granted or abused. Respect it. Don’t just be a bystander to a discussion that unfolds after someone says something provocative. Facilitate. Your task is to help people come to a common understanding or to consensus efficiently (BTW: consensus is not that everyone must necessarily agree with each other but rather that they can live with the decisions being made). Help people retain the information. Don’t babble like a brook and don’t let others do so either. When answers are long and rambling, people don’t know what to hang on to. Your job is to anchor them in something.
  5. Review “homework” from the last meeting. Not only does it remind participants what happened last week, it holds attendees accountable. It demonstrates continuity from one meeting to the next. It validates your work before and your work after.
  6. Attendees should walk away with concrete next steps or Action Items. The world’s most successful organizations demand that attendees leave meetings with actionable tasks. Apple, Google, Microsoft. You name it. Action is the name of the game. People talk too much and process too much at the expense of action – especially in the nonprofit world.
  7. Bring solutions, not problems. There are times when you need to develop solutions in the meeting to a stated problem. But I have sat through so many meetings where the facilitators have created a process to give the illusion of inclusion when they already know the solution. Forgive me, but that is a crazy waste of time. If you know the solution bring it. Let the attendees discuss your solution not the problem you already have a solution to.
  8. Make careful transitions. Before you transition from one agenda item to another, ask if everyone is finished with the current topic. Have a bridge that takes you from one point to the next. Good writers do this with their paragraphs. There is a bridge that takes the reader from one paragraph to the next. Good facilitators do the same thing.
  9. Every item should have an end time. Constraints breed creativity. People mistakenly think that open ended discussion lead to innovation. Wrong. By not placing an end time to agenda items or discussions, we encourage rambling, off-topic and useless conversation. Time constraints kick in a sense of urgency and urgency ignites attention. Creativity then starts to flow.
  10. End the meeting well. A productive meeting needs to end on the right note to set the stage for the work to continue. End on the same positive note you started. Congratulate. Inspire. Encourage. Above all, evaluate. Ask participants for what worked well and would could be improved the next time around. Use the feedback to improve the next meeting.

Successful meeting facilitation is a skill. It’s both art and science. Done well, I believe it has the power to create impactful change. Done poorly, it’s just one more of the drudgeries we have to deal with at work.

Good Luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

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How To Nail Your Next Job Interview

August 9, 2017 •   4 minute read • by Saeed


“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” ~ Steve Martin

Over the span of my career, I have interviewed hundreds of job candidates and have been interviewed countless of times myself. I am always amazed at the poor performance on both sides of the table.

I assume you are reading this because you have an upcoming interview.

I also assume you know the basics:

  • Dress for the part;
  • Arrive a few minutes early;
  • Shake hands, don’t hug (really, I’ve had that happen);
  • Have an extra copy of your resume and cover letter on hand;
  • Don’t respond with canned answers;
  • Prepare examples;
  • Research the company and prepare three questions to ask;
  • Don’t go off on a rant about how technology is destroying us if you are applying for a job at a Apple or how wall street is fleecing us if you are applying for a job at Goldman Sachs and so on;
  • Send a hand-written thank you letter.

Lastly, I assume you know that an impression is formed within the first 60 seconds of meeting you. Actually, the research says 1/10 of a second but who’s counting.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s focus on how to actually answer questions. One of the biggest turn-offs in interviews is when people ramble on. To avoid being a babbling brook, use the STAR technique. This is an especially useful technique for answering interview questions in which you must answer with an anecdote. There are four key steps: situation, task, action, and results. Here is how it works:

(S) Situation. Describe the situation in which the event took place.

(T) Task. Describe the task you were asked to complete. If there was a particular problem or issue you were trying to solve, describe that here.

(A) Action. Explain what action you took to complete the task or solve the problem.

(R) Results. Explain the result of your actions. For example, if your actions resulted in completing a task, resolving a conflict, improving your company’s sales record, etc., explain this. Try to focus on how your actions resulted in a success for the company

Now that you have your technique down, let me give you the big secret to job interviews: People want to hire people they can see themselves working with on a daily basis. In other words, it has to be a good fit regardless of your qualifications or experience. Otherwise, both sides will be stuck in a perennial state of unhappiness. So remember, if you don’t get the job maybe it’s because it wasn’t meant to be.

Good Luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

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4 Fundamental Reasons Why People Procrastinate (and what to do about it)

August 8, 2017 •   6 minute read • by Saeed


“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Procrastination.

It’s the thief of time. It sabotages success. It corrodes your self-esteem. It’s the curse of productivity.

Not sure if you’re a procrastinator?

Do you put off making decisions or completing important tasks? Do you start your work at the eleventh hour because it doesn’t get exciting enough until time is running out? Do you (erroneously) think you do your best work under the gun because that’s when you are most creative?

Then you are by definition a procrastinator.

The stereotype of procrastinators is that they are lazy or undisciplined. This is far from the truth. It’s important to understand that while procrastination may look similar on the surface, the source of all procrastination is not the same.

Procrastination is strongly influenced by your personality type and personal psychology.  Once you understand that, you will understand that the disease has a cure.

1.   You Procrastinate Because You Are Holding Out For Perfection

The Problem: You are the over-thinker. You suffer from paralysis by analysis. You are afraid of making a choice or a decision because it commits you to a course of action. You pontificate until it’s too late because you are waiting for the perfect idea, time, person or whatever. You are waiting in vain. Perfection will never come. There is a time you’ll have to reconcile yourself with that reality and get down to business.

The Solution:  Realize that you are on a thinking luxury cruise and at some point you’ll have to get off the ship. Put a time limit on your pontification. Have a process for weighing up and writing down the pros and cons, the consequences, and even the fears you have. Regarding your fears, develop a “Plan B.” Realize that there is a point at which more information will not lead to a safer decision that protects you from all possible negative outcomes. Now jump in and do it.

2.   You Procrastinate To Avoid Responsibility

The Problem: It’s the old classic. You can’t take ownership because deep down you’re afraid of being blamed. This comes down to a lack of mental maturity. You can be heard covering up your lack of mental maturity by saying ‘Yes, but…’ a lot. Your default is coming up with excuses instead of solutions.

The Solution: Not accepting responsibility all boils down to being passive. Passivity is toxic to a happy and productive life. You have to become active and engaged and that may sometimes mean accepting blame for something you did wrong. It’s not the end of the world. People won’t reject you if you make a mistake. They may, however, reject you when they figure out you have a pattern of not taking responsibility for those mistakes. Start with exchanging your excuses for actions. If they are the wrong actions, learn from them and be better this time. Success is made up of this loop of experimentation. It’s what takes you from point A to B in life.

3.   You Procrastinate Because You’re a People Pleaser

The Problem: You agree in order to fit in. You take on tasks even though you don’t have the time, skill, or expertise. Now you procrastinate for fear of conflict, disapproval or rejection. The contradiction is that over time, your procrastination will lead to conflict, disapproval and rejection.

The Solution: Go inside yourself and find out what your self is afraid of if you allow you to assert yourself. Realize that people will still care about you regardless of the decisions you make or the outcome of your efforts. Help yourself by communicating your concerns (or insecurities or doubts as the situation permits) to win others’ support. Know that it’s okay to make mistakes and that mistakes are learning opportunities.

4.   You Procrastinate Because You’re An Adrenaline Junkie

The Problem: You procrastinate until the stakes are so high that if you don’t produce you’ll be in deep trouble. You need this external stimulation to actually do the work. You are likely not intrinsically motivated or just lack the discipline habit. The excitement and danger is the fuel for your creativity. You feel like you can’t be creative without it.

The Solution: Realize that by taking small bites off the apple does not hamper your creativity, it enhances it. When you give yourself more time because you start earlier and do work in smaller chunks, you leave room to work on details that you might miss when you wait for the last minute and do it all in one big stroke of creative output. Yes, it’s thrilling but the stress you’ve caused yourself leading up to your moment of triumph is slowly eating away at you. All the time you spent fretting about not doing the assignment, could have been spent doing other more productive things that help advance your career or your life.

The Summary

You may exhibit one or several or even all of the above traits. Now that you can better identify and pin point which of these traits is the source of your procrastination, you can begin to surgically work on the cure. Procrastination doesn’t make you more creative. It doesn’t help you please people, it doesn’t help you avoid blame or responsibility and it doesn’t  lead to perfection.  What does all of those things is self-discipline.

Good Luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

This CEO Would Leave His Family Behind In Disneyland For His Job!

The Best Leaders Hire For Emotional Intelligence, Not Just Technical Skills

3 Reasons Why You Should Think (Really) Big!

Trust is the Cornerstone of All Relationships

15 Traits That Demonstrate Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

3 Most Important Deposits for Your Career Bank Account

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

Would you leave your family behind at Disneyland for your job?

July  19, 2017 •   3 minute read • by Saeed


I recently came across an NYT article about CEO Don Mal of software firm Vena Solutions who asks new recruits if they would be willing to leave their family at Disneyland to do something that was really important for the company.

The punchline is that he has the expectation that they would say: Yes!!

Mr. Mal, who hires for I.Q. and for a ‘relentless pursuit of numbers,’ does not hire those that say, No. He reasons that those who would not abandon their families for their job do not have the right work ethic and provides an example of his own to illustrate the point.

The fetishization and idealization of a relentless work ethic is nothing new, especially for the Silicon Valley crowd. In our tech obsessed culture, the modern entrepreneur is lauded, hailed, and glamorized. They are the celebrity equivalent of the business world and pop culture celebrates their seemingly infinite powers to reshape our world and make everyone’s lives better (cue the sound of a needle record scratch).

This ideology has become so powerful, it’s had a strong downstream influence on other sectors. But is there a price to be paid for a work culture that not only celebrates burn-out efforts, but damn well requires it?

Research shows there is a direct correlation between a person’s level of happiness, success, financial prosperity, overall wellbeing and the quality of their primary relationships. Most people don’t realize that the quality of their relationships equals the quality of their life!

Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, who directed a 75-year-old study on adult development has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction and validates this finding.

Imagine for a moment lying on your deathbed. What will you be thinking about? I guarantee it will be your primary relationships, not the jobs you held. Did you bring joy to the lives of the people most important to you? Did your existence enrich theirs? Were you a good person? That, after all, is the meaning of life.

What would happen if you allocated more time to the renewal and regeneration of your relationships?

If you imagine your funeral and what your eulogy will consist of, surely it should not be about the time you left your family at the Magic Kingdom.

What do you think?

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

The Best Leaders Hire For Emotional Intelligence, Not Just Technical Skills

3 Reasons Why You Should Think (Really) Big!

Trust is the Cornerstone of All Relationships

15 Traits That Demonstrate Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

3 Most Important Deposits for Your Career Bank Account

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

The Best Leaders Hire For Emotional Intelligence Not Just Technical Skills

July  12, 2017 •   3 minute read • by Saeed


Silicon Valley is associated with nerd culture stereotyped as socially awkward, tech savvy, sci-fi loving loners who probably don’t rank high on emotional intelligence.

But the stories I have heard about Silicon Valley scions like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg suggest otherwise. In fact, these folks rank high on emotional intelligence and the way they approach candidate interviews proves it.

Jobs famously would conduct interviews by taking a walk around the block with the person being interviewed. The longer the walk went, the more likely it was that Jobs thought the person compelling.  Surely, he was trying to get a sense of the whole person and not just their technical skills.

Musk famously asks candidates one question and listens closely to what they say: “Tell me the story of your life and the decisions that you made along the way and why you made them and also tell me about some of the most difficult problems you worked on and how you solved them.”

The answer tells him who really knows what they’re doing and who’s grandstanding, and it helps him choose employees who are likely to share his goals and work ethic.

At Facebook, the focus of the interview is on connection just like the mission of the company. So Zuck wants to know: “On your very best day at work – the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world – what did you do that day?”

Obviously, these questions reveal more about the candidate than stale and overused questions with well rehearsed responses such as “what is your greatest weakness?”

What are some of your best interview questions that you’ve asked or that you’ve been asked?

Is It Enough to “Follow Your Passion?”

July  10, 2017 •   3 minute read • by Saeed


“To be a great motorcycle racer, the most important thing is passion for the bike.” ~ Valentino Rossi

Follow your passion.

Seems simple enough. The theory behind this advice is that following your passion will inevitably lead to happiness and that when the chips are down, you are more likely to persevere because, it is after all, your passion.

That’s all good and well but many struggle with their passion.

What if your passion is philosophy or karate or motorcycle racing? Should you become a professor or own a dojo or compete in MotoGP?

Is that the path to personal fulfillment?

There is a limitation to a paradigm that seems, at least on the surface, self-serving?

What about impact on others? What about social good?

So, there is a flip side to this coin.

Follow your passion, yes but also do what provides value to others. Following your passion will only help you check off some of the boxes towards fulfillment and happiness.

Helping others is the secret to being personally fulfilled and happy over the long haul.

That is because a fundamental connection to others is necessary for true personal fulfillment.

Focus on getting at something that genuinely helps others and makes the world a better place and you will find fulfillment and happiness.

You do this by spending your time solving problems and finding your vehicle for self-expression.

Spend your time where your energy and effort meet someone’s need.

Passion is not a job, a sport or hobby or a dream. It is the full force of your attention and energy that you give to whatever is right in front of you – not something you desire in a distant time and place.

Following your passion means being all in – not just dabbling.

Following your passion is not just about something that can make you feel happy but it is also the impact that something has on others.

Passion is an obsession. Passion is love. Passion is pain. Passion is also hatred.Because along with the positive feelings passion can stimulate, there is a need for perfection that comes with the obsession. Good enough is never good enough and passionate people often don’t feel ‘good enough.’

Passionate people are almost always ambitious. They are characterized by drive, limitless energy, and motivation. They transform passion into raw enthusiasm which is then processed into an internal drive that keeps them going.

Passion is a gift and a curse.

Not everyone has the courage or the opportunity to follow their passion. For some, being practical is a more important survival skill.

For others, the obsession leaves them no choice.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content and Photography by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

3 Reasons Why You Should Think (Really) Big!

Trust is the Cornerstone of All Relationships

15 Traits That Demonstrate Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

3 Most Important Deposits for Your Career Bank Account

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

3 Reasons Why You Should Think (Really) BIG!

June 28, 2017 •  5 minute read • by Saeed


“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.”

Burnham (1907) quoted in: Charles Moore (1921) Daniel H. Burnham, Architect, Planner of Cities. Volume 2. Chapter XXV “Closing in 1911-1912;” p. 147

BIG goals are scary to many of us. They cut right to the “A” in the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting scheme. But the reality is that in many cases we don’t know what we are actually capable of achieving until we try.

In his breakthrough book Built to Last, Jim Collins wants us to do just that.

He wants to know what mountain we are climbing, pushing us to articulate what he and Jerry Porras call a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).

The BHAG serves as a ‘North Star’ (or ‘Southern Cross’ if you’re down under) as you drive your business, your project or your life toward success. It provides a vector along which all other decisions will be tested, helping you make the critical “yes/no” decisions that drive progress.

One of the most historic BHAGs ever set was by JFK when he declared:

“…I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Kennedy did this because he believed that, if America wanted to stay on the forefront of innovation, exploration of space was key. Kennedy realized that the nation needed this motivational, albeit seemingly impossible goal.

  • In the 1960s, Nike vowed to crush Adidas,
  • In the 1970s Honda set its’ sights on ‘destroying’ Yamaha,
  • In 1990, Wal-Mart declared it would become a $125 billion company by the year 2000,
  • Microsoft’s BHAG was to put a computer on every desk in every home,
  • Stanford set out to be the Harvard of the west,
  • Amazon set out to make available every book ever printed, in any language in less than 60 seconds, and
  • Starbucks set its sights on becoming the most recognized and respected consumer brand in the world.

1.    Big goals cause us to expand our vision and our imagination. In doing so, we have to confront the reality of the basic foundation we need to get us there. If that foundation is not strong enough, then we have to gain the skills, knowledge or resources we need to strengthen it so that it can hold the weight of the BHAG.

2.    Big goals cause us to focus. They make us realize that we must maximize our time and do our best every day to move inch by inch towards the BHAG. To dwell in failure or self-pity slows our movement. Distractions take us off course. Big goals help us realize there is little time to waste and much to achieve and they help us recognize the kind of talent and support we need around us to get there. Big goals help focus our attention.

3.    Big goals cause us to become execution machines. This may be the ‘biggest’ benefit of big goals. If we are serious, big goals cause us to change our self-defeating behaviors and habits. We become organized. We stop procrastinating. We start tracking tasks that help reach our goals and we start doing so with efficiency. We take responsibility for our mistakes. We become efficient learners by incorporating the lessons learned from errors into processes so that they are not repeated. We become steadfast in our mission to systematize our progress.

At this point, something magical and more significant starts to happen. It doesn’t even matter whether we achieve the big goal or not because we have achieved an arguably  greater victory. We have revolutionized ourselves. This is the ultimate ancillary benefit of setting big goals –  to become self aware, and to build and improve ourselves. Transformational change only happens through consistent and sustained effort. That, in turn, takes the power of habit and the discipline of focus.

I hope this helps you to get thinking about your own BHAG.

If you have one you’d care to share, I’d love to hear it in the comments below!

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

Trust is the Cornerstone of All Relationships

15 Traits That Demonstrate Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

3 Most Important Deposits for Your Career Bank Account

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

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Trust is the Cornerstone of All Relationships

June 26, 2017 •  4 minute read • by Saeed


“Trust is like an eraser, it gets smaller and smaller with every mistake.” ~ Unknown

In relationships, trust is the fundamental building block from which everything else is built. Full stop.

Need proof?

A new study from the Ken Blanchard Companies examining the connection between trustworthy leadership behavior and productive employees demonstrates significant correlation between trust and numerous positive employee behaviors including performance, loyalty and productivity. Duh!

But how do you build trust?

That’s simple but not necessarily easy. Trust is built over time and by people sharing and being increasingly vulnerable with each other.

Think your staff meetings are enough? Think again.

You have to spend unstructured time together getting to know each other outside of work.

When I lived in the UK, I noticed that co-workers went out for drinks with each other after work on a regular basis. The pub culture helped. Nevertheless, discussing what is important in your life, who your family is, and what is going on in your life outside of work is an essential part of relationship building and trust.

When you add a new team member, you have to work to foster trust. When someone leaves, you have to start this process over again.

Your team will never reach their potential, individually or as a group, unless you are willing to be equally vulnerable with each other. High performing teams need this level of, let’s call it intimacy.

Only when a high level of trust is created among team members is there a chance to reach your goals as a collective. Otherwise, it’s every man or woman for him or her self.

Fairness, honesty, recognition, openness, transparency, and effective communication are the hallmarks of a trusting work environment.

Trust or the lack of it has major motivating implications. Trust is a lubricant for loyalty. People want to perform their best for those they trust. People begin to believe in themselves if they are recognized and trusted for their efforts in an organization.

On the other hand, when trust is broken, it’s extremely hard to repair. That’s when your once star performer starts spending more energy on self preservation and job hunting than excelling in their role. That’s when ideas dry up. That’s when innovation stagnates and that’s when communication mostly becomes one way.

Take care of your employees. Stop treating them like expendable commodities. Stop making everything about what they can do for you. They are not just idea and execution machines. Take the time upfront to develop trusted relationships. If you show them you care about them – their lives, their thoughts, their values – your business performance will only increase.

Recognize their efforts. Most importantly, recognize their extra efforts. Recognition increases trust between leadership and employees.

There is a high cost to low trust. An organization with high levels of trust will withstand any crisis. Conversely, an organization with low levels of trust can come apart at the smallest sign of trouble.

Effective leadership moves organizations from current to future states. The bedrock of effective leadership is trust.

What are your thoughts on how to protect trust among team members? Tell me about it in the comments!

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

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Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

15 Traits That Demonstrate Emotionally Intelligent Leadership

June 18, 2017 • 6 minute read • by Saeed


“Our emotions need to be as educated as our intellect.” ~ Unknown

Over the last couple of decades, numerous studies have shown a positive relationship between emotionally intelligent leadership and employee satisfaction, engagement, retention, and performance.

The higher up the ladder you are, the more people you impact. The person at the top sets the atmosphere that permeates throughout the organization. They set the emotional tone for the organizational culture. Here are 15 traits that every leader should demonstrate that are indispensible to setting an atmosphere throughout the organization that is conducive to productivity and morale. They are also key milestones on your journey to emotional intelligence mastery.

1.    Encourage open communication: When you get ideas and suggestions from colleagues or your team, acknowledge them. Ten words or less, such as, “I appreciate the heads up,” or, “Thank you, that update helped me,” does a lot to encourage further information, whereas a ringing silence or lack of response telegraphs apathy, which tends to shut people down.

2.    Err on the side of over communicating: When you decide to ignore input or recommendations, certainly ones you solicited, take a moment to explain. Absent that, people will read their own story into your silence, which may be: s/he doesn’t want my input, so I’m not going to provide it.

3.    Invest in relationships: Over time, go a level deeper of getting to know your people by investing in some one-on-one time with them, outside of the context of immediate tasks or projects.

4.    Let people get to know you: People want to know you. Don’t hesitate to share a story or to talk about yourself in a way that shows something about your character, as context and time permit.

5.    Understand personalities and motivations: It’s good to know your colleagues. How much do you really know? Make sure to ask questions about others — both work-related and on a human level. Show caring and concern about others when it’s heartfelt.

6.    Attention is the currency of all relationships: Listen hard. Watch distractions, like doing other things while people are talking to you.

7.    Know when to use kid gloves: Consider making extra effort to be gentle with people who are easily intimidated, or less prone to go “toe to toe.”

8.    Have an open door: Leaders who sit behind a closed door all day long become cut off from those they lead. Their teams can become antsy because they rarely see their leader and feel like they’re imposing on him/her when they need to talk. Decide to have an open door when it comes to hearing out your team. Give them permission to approach at any time.

9.    Smile more: Facial expressions say a lot. A scowling or stone-faced leader does not say: “I’m approachable! Come, let me know what you need and what’s happening.” Rather it tells those you lead to stay away and don’t bother me. Make the choice to smile more often than not. Let your team know they can approach you by welcoming them with a smile.

10.  Share your mistakes and vulnerabilities: One thing exceptional leaders know is that mistakes need to be recognized. And they’re willing to go first with their mistakes. Approachable leaders open up about the mistakes they have made. They also let their team know where the mistakes have led. By being open about past mistakes, you encourage others to share their trials with you. Doing so allows you to help guide them through the tough times.

11. Know your team members’ names: Some leaders have large staffs. In these environments, it can be hard to learn team members names. Yet the best, and most approachable, leaders know that knowing the names of their teams make them more personable. When you begin to make the effort to learn names, people will see your willingness to get to know them. This makes them see you as a more effective leader.

12. Share the glory: You will find there are leaders who hog all of the glory for a job well done. You will also find that these leaders are rarely the ones that have credibility with their teams. Rather, the leaders who share the glory are the ones who are seen as fair leaders and people rally around them. Don’t hog the praise for yourself. Pass it around to the ones who really helped your organization get to where it’s trying to go.

13. Tell more stories: Stories have a great power. They draw people in and they help people remember details. Stories can also help make you a more effective communicator. People are drawn to stories. Stories click with others. And stories create community when done right. Tell stories that encourage your team to be a community.

14. Practice positive thinking: There are positive people and then there are negative people. Generally, people are drawn to those with a positive worldview rather than those who hold a negative worldview. Having a negative outlook will make others see you in a negative light. Change your perspective and begin to think positively. Share this with others and they will see you as a more positive and effective leader.

15. Initiate chit-chat: Effective leaders are willing to sit down and chat with those they lead. Whether it’s at the lunch table or at the front door or at a community event. When leaders initiate conversations with others they are seen as approachable. They open the doors to conversations They make the first move so others can feel more comfortable.

As a leader, you must have a solid understanding of how your emotions and actions affect your team. Taking the time to work on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills will pay off in dividends in the long run. In the meantime, if you practice the skills highlighted above, you will begin your journey towards emotional intelligence mastery.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

3 Most Important Deposits for Your Career Bank Account

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant

3 Most Important Deposits For Your Career Bank Account

June 16, 2017 •  4 minute read • by Saeed


“Learn from the past, live in the present, and create your future.”~  Joel Brown

We all know how a regular bank account works. We make deposits, save up money, and when we need that money later, we withdraw from it.

Your career bank account works the same way. You make certain investments in it and over time, you build up your career capital.

You can make career deposits or career withdrawals (toxic behaviors) and with each you either build or take away from your career capital.

Just like any investment, the building of your underlying value and fidelity as a professional helps you build career capital.

A recently conducted Accenture Survey found that more than 89 percent of professionals believe building their career capital is the key to success in the workplace.

Today’s worker has to dig deeper, much deeper to find his or her underlying value and to make daily deposits in his or her career bank account. Here are three of the most important investments you can make:

  1. Invest in your core competencies:

In a nutshell, competencies are the combination of knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors.

  • Knowledge is information developed or learned through experience, study or inquiry. Increase your knowledge relentlessly.
  • Skill is the result of repeatedly applying knowledge or ability. Continually improve them to perfection.
  • Ability is an innate potential to perform mental and physical actions or tasks. Use these to your optimum advantage to achieve your goals.
  • Behavior is the observable reaction of an individual to a certain situation. Always keep these positive.

You are hired for your competencies. This is the gateway to achieve higher levels of performance. Knowledge, skills, abilities and behavior are the key ingredients of your career capital investment portfolio. You can achieve mastery over the market like Warren Buffet by blending these and channeling them towards your career goals.

  1. Invest in your relationships:

Your network is one of the most important career assets you have. If investment in real estate is all about location, location, location, then investment in your career may well be about relationships, relationships, relationships. Nurture them and they will nurture you. The surest way to burn career capital is to burn bridges. As a rule, try never to burn any.

  1. Invest in your brand:

If you watch a Nike commercial, the last thing you’ll see is a reference to shoe laces and leather. Apple commercials never boast about their monitors or keyboards. Rather, what you see is an association: great athletes in the case of Nike and great thinkers in the case of Apple. To develop your personal brand, you must ask yourself what you wish for people to associate with you when they think of your name. A strong personal brand is reliant upon a strong narrative. As an exercise, sit down and write your own story (your past and your future) and then align everything you do with that story.

Summary

Employees and jobseekers know that to advance, they must invest in the appropriate education, training, and skills. Employers know that training provides a return on their investment in retention and job satisfaction. But that is not nearly enough. As you go through your journey, you’ll find that the foremost rule of the road is that career tracks are no longer linear. If there was ever a yellow brick road, it has been replaced by interconnected webs of opportunity, exposure and experience where a willingness to learn, to grow and to adapt to a brave and yet uncharted new world gain the greatest returns on investment. You’re not in Kansas anymore.

Good luck.

©2017 – All Content and Photography by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.

I really appreciate that you are reading my post. If you found it helpful, I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn or subscribe to read exclusive content on my BLOG.

Why would you follow me?

I write personal and professional development articles to help readers be the most effective human being they can be; in short, to help you find your inner awesomeness. By liking, commenting, sharing, and following, you are encouraging me to keep going. It is my direct feedback loop that tells me that I am providing value to you.

I also love connecting with new people and seeing what others are up to in the world.

Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.

Best,

Saeed

Why You Never Follow Through (And How To Fix It)

Ready To Quit Your Job And Be A Consultant? Read This Before You Jump!

6 Essential Skills to Master the Art of Negotiation

Your Bad Boss is Bad for Your Heart (and everything else)

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like an Entrepreneur

Why Your Meetings Suck and How to Improve Them

6 Secret Weapons to Supervise Like a Superhero

10 Easy Ways to Increase Your Social Intelligence and Motivate Your People

Top 10 Tips To 10x Your Productivity And Take Back Your Creativity

3 Things Babies Can Teach Us About Employee Engagement

12 Reasons Why You Should Work Like A Consultant